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STEEL WARRIORS Iron Maiden stage to stay in Dubai p05 BIG BUSINESS Harman eyes Middle East expansion p15


ON THE AVENUE Dubai hotel showcases stunning AV tech p27

DISPLAY DOCTORS How D3LED plans to meet demand for cutting-edge lighting technologies

HITTING THE ROAD How specialised logistics services are transforming the touring industry


Top identities talk up challenges and opportunities in the live events production sector

Vol: 3 Issue: 3 March 2009

An ITP Business Publication


March 2009 Volume 3, Issue 3 05 Regional News Al Laith to market all-steel stage in GCC; CSM confirms first US TV production deal; ETC confirms Selador tie-up.

12 World Dateline Bloc Party tour showcases i-Pix luminaires; UK club Lush undergoes facelift; The Eagles tour with Medialon Manager.

15 Big Business Harman International has identified the Middle East as a key market in its international expansion strategy.

20 COVER STORY: Facing the music S&S asks some of the industry’s best known identities to outline the challenges facing live events production.

27 The AVenue Dubai’s newest five-star hotel The Address is a showcase for the latest AV technologies to hit the market.

36 Display doctors Middle East newcomer D3LED outlines its plans for the pro lighting sector.

36 On the road again Touring logistics in the spotlight.

56 Backstage


27 36



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EDITOR’S COMMENT Registered at Dubai Media City PO Box 500024, Dubai, UAE Tel: 00 971 4 210 8000, Fax: 00 971 4 210 8080 Web: Offices in Dubai & London ITP Business Publishing CEO Walid Akawi Managing Director Neil Davies Deputy Managing Director Matthew Southwell Editorial Director David Ingham Publishing Director Diarmuid O’Malley Editorial Senior Group Editor Aaron Greenwood Tel: +971 4 435 6251 Editor Kelly Lewis Tel: +971 4 435 6273 email: Contributor John Parnell Tel: +971 4 435 6271 email: Advertising Commercial Director Fred Dubery Tel: +971 4 435 6339 email: Sales Manager Nick Lowe Tel: +971 4 435 6364 email: Publishing Director Diarmuid O’Malley Tel: +971 4 435 6355 email: N.American Advertisement Michael J. Mitchell Tel: +1 631 673 3199 Japan Representative Mikio Tsuchiya Tel: + 81 354 568230 email: Studio Group Art Editor Daniel Prescott Designer Gurpreet Jhita Photography Director of Photography Sevag Davidian Chief Photographer Nemanja Seslija Senior Photographers Valeriano Handumon, Alan Desiderio, Efraim Evidor, Khatuna Khutsishvili Staff Photographers Khaled Termanini, Thanos Lazopoulos, John Pocock, George Dipin, Samin Abarqoi, Leila Cranswick, Rajesh Raghav, Ruel Pableo, Louis Savage Production & Distribution Group Production Manager Kyle Smith Production Manager Eleanor Zwanepoel Production Coordinator Sharon White Managing Picture Editor Patrick Littlejohn Image Retoucher Emmalyn Robles Distribution Manager Karima Ashwell Distribution Executive Nada Al Alami Circulation Head of Circulation & Database Gaurav Gulati Marketing Head of Marketing Daniel Fewtrell Marketing Executive Masood Ahmad ITP Digital Director Peter Conmy ITP Group Chairman Andrew Neil Managing Director Robert Serafin Finance Director Toby Jay Spencer-Davies Board of Directors K.M. Jamieson, Mike Bayman, Walid Akawi, Neil Davies, Rob Corder, Mary Serafin Circulation Customer Service Tel: +971 4 286 8559 Certain images in this issue are available for purchase. Please contact for further details or visit www. Printed by Color Lines Press Subscribe online at The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for error or omissions contained in this publication, however caused. The opinions and views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the reader’s particular circumstances. The ownership of trademarks is acknowledged. No part of this publication or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publishers in writing. An exemption is hereby granted for extracts used for the purpose of fair review.

Published by and © 2009 ITP Business Publishing, a division of the ITP Publishing Group Ltd. Registered in the B.V.I. under Company Number 1402846

Riding the digital revolution I want it all, I want it now and I want it for free – this is the contemporary attitude the global music industry is facing as it battles with the decline of physical CD sales. The global sales of recorded music continued its downward spiral in 2008. As consumers continued to shy away from purchasing CDs, retailers cut back on their dedicated entertainment floor space, but the final blow came during the critical year-end holiday shopping period when consumer spending plummeted due to the economic downturn. A recent report by Forrester Research paints a grim outlook for traditional music revenues, but more positively suggests the digital music business could benefit from a shake-up and a reinvention of itself in order to meet consumer demand for new technology. Undoubtedly, digital downloads will become the logical mass market platform for the future, satisfying all the needs that people have when it comes to music — easy to find, easy to buy, and easy to listen to, regardless of the device. In 2008, total album sales, including CDs and fullalbum downloads, were 428 million, a 14 percent drop from 2007. However, the digital music business internationally grew by around 25 percent to US$3.7 billion. This spike realises that digital platforms now account for around 20 percent of recorded music sales, up from 15 percent in 2007, according to the IFPI Digital Music Report 2009. Additionally, single track downloads, up 24 percent in 2008 to 1.4 billion units globally, continue to drive the online market, with digital albums also growing steadily (up 36 percent). These figures, stimulated by a new generation of music subscription services, social networking sites and new licensing channels, such as Nokia Comes

With Music, YouTube and MySpace Music, are encouraging and have left some record companies in a position where they can now say they wring a significant profit from online music sites. However, analysts say despite the growth and promise of digital music the money made online is still far from enough to make up for losses in physical sales. To overcome this steep hurdle in 2009 and beyond, music companies will have to look to new revenue streams to monetise their product and generate multifaceted value from the links between artists and brands. Despite these developments in the music sector, it can’t be ignored that digital music operates in an environment where 95 percent of music downloads remain illegal and unpaid for. Collating separate studies in 16 countries over a three-year period, IFPI estimates more than 40 billion files were illegally file-shared in 2008. While there is significant progress being made internationally in getting ISPs to cooperate to curb mass-scale copyright infringement on their networks, the issue of piracy remains at large the biggest challenge for music companies and their commercial partners above all else. In a fresh approach to tackling piracy,the Isle of Man recently launched an initiative to charge a $1.45 weekly tax on behalf of record labels to let citizens download music without penalty. As the intense battle to fight piracy continues on a global scale it is important for government bodies, ISPs and consumers to act ethically and responsibly through the correct channels, because ignorance is not a viable if there is to be a future for commercial digital content.

Kelly Lewis Editor

ITP Business, the publisher of Sound & Stage, has launched a new web portal that caters specifically to the Middle East entertainment technology and production industries. For more information visit




Al Laith to market all-steel stage in GCC Dubai-based scaffolder confirms new full-size steel stage to remain permanently in the region The new stage played a starring role during Iron Maiden’s recent gig at Dubai Media City.

A temporary “full-sized rock’n’roll stage” erected for Iron Maiden’s recent performance at Dubai Media City will remain permanently in the Middle East, Tony Nobbs, manag-

ing director of Dubai-based Al Laith Scaffolding has confirmed. Supplied by UK-based outdoor stage specialists, Serious Stages, the 25 metre-wide stage will be locally managed by Al Laith

CHILLOUT PRODUCTIONS TO BRING COMEDY CONVENTION TO DUBAI Dubai-based event management company Chillout Productions has launched a new business division, Chillout Comedy, headed by managing partner Samer Hamadeh. The new division’s fi rst priority will be the three-day Dubai Comedy Convention, which will be held at new Dubai venue The Palladium in April. “While the live music and nightclub scenes are growing in the region, we found that Chillout Comedy head Samer the demand for Hamadeh. live comedy far outweighs supply,” said Hamadeh. “The beauty of the Dubai Comedy Convention

is that it is both an ongoing and annual event that will take place several times throughout the year. “We already have the next edition planned for the fourth quarter of 2009, and we are also looking at a permanent venue for a comedy club, with a formal announcement planned soon.” In terms of further diversifying Chillout’s entertainment business in the GCC, Hamadeh said the company’s corporate events division, Chillout Corporate, would produce public events and festivals in the region and Lebanon in the near future, with the fi rst of these scheduled to take place in the Lebanese capital in April, in the form of the Beirut Comedy Convention.

Scaffolding. The stage will be made available for use at large-scale events in the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Equipped with steel trussing which can support more than 50 tonnes of dead weight, the free-span structure will dramatically reduce the amount of rigging required for the hanging of AV equipment compared to rival stages currently available in the region, claimed Nobbs. “Aluminium stages can face issues in regards to load capacity. Steel is a stronger material with a higher capacity, which really makes a big difference,” he said. “Some clients favour aluminium while others prefer steel; we are just offering them the option to go with the latter.” The stage will provide another alternative for event promoters operating in the GCC, said Nobbs. “The challenge lies in educating the promoters and venue staff on what is available and how it can be used,” he added.

CSM/SCORPIO CONFIRMS FIRST US PRODUCTION DEAL Dubai-based Centre Stage Management has signed its first television production deal via new subsidiary Scorpio International, acquiring a stake in the forthcoming US reality TV series, I Manage a Celebrity. The TV series, which follows the trials and tribulations of celebrity managers, is currently being shot in Los Angeles. While the series is yet to be picked up in the US, CSM founder and Scorpio International MD Jackie Wartanian is confident the concept will prove popular with local and international audiences. “We’re proud to be working on this project and we can’t wait to export the concept internationally,” Lara Teperdjian and Jackie Wartanian. she said. MARCH 2009 SAS



Bosch appoints Burr to Pro Audio division Ryan Burr named regional sales manager for Bosch Communications Middle East and Africa Bosch Communications, a manufacturer and supplier of professional audio and communications equipment, has appointed Ryan Burr its regional sales manager for its pro audio division in the Middle East and Africa. Operating out of Bosch’s Dubai office, Burr will be directly responsible for the sales and management of key brands, including Electrovoice and Dynacord throughout the region. In a bid to gain more comprehensive exposure within the MENA’s emerging markets, Burr said he would be more actively communicating with current regional partners, while attempting to establish new associates in countries where Bosch does not yet have fully established networks. During 2009, Burr said a key focus for Bosch in the Middle East would be to expand the scope of the company’s opera-

Bosch Communications’ Pro Audio regional sales manager Ryan Burr.

tions within the permanent install market. “Such [permanent install] projects will see us working closely with our Bosch colleagues to gain access to projects that require a more intensive level of support,” he said. “Additionally, we will offer the expertise of our established design and support teams, both from our Dubai-based operations and our corporate headquarters in Straubing, Germany.”

ETC CONFIRMS SELADOR LED TIE-UP Lighting manufacturer ETC has acquired the rights to the Selador product line from Selador co-founders, Rob Gerlach and Novella Smith. Under the terms of the agreement, ETC will manufacture and distribute the Selador product line. Gerlach and Smith have been retained as exclusive consultants to ETC. ETC is reportedly keen to develop control and power infrastructure for LED systems. The company confi rmed the Selador product line would be ETC has confirmed a tie-up with Selador.

06 SAS MARCH 2009

distributed and serviced through its established dealer channels. Selador luminaires are already on sale in the US, while a local release is expected for later this year. The ETC/ Selador deal involves the licensing of the Philips Color Kinetics patent portfolio as well as other patents owned by Source Four inventor, David Cunningham. “There are many things we have wanted to do with our product line, and we just haven’t had the resources to do it until now,” said Gerlach. “The product offerings that Selador and ETC combined will bring to market are orders of magnitude more promising than anything we could have done on our own.” Under the agreement the new luminaire line-up includes ETC’s Selador Series, Paletta and the company’s most recent release into the marketplace, the Vivid LED fi xture series.

Burr said Bosch was currently working with its African systems integration partner, ProSound, in South Africa to install sound systems in the country’s 2010 FIFA World Cup stadiums. He confirmed that ElectroVoice products were being utilised in 90 percent of the tournament venues and added that through its involvement with this project, Bosch was setting the benchmark for future stadium-sized audio systems. In the coming months, Burr said Bosch would be rolling-out a new range of products into the marketplace, with a key focus on strengthening its range of amplifiers. To further boost its industry participation, Burr said Bosch would have a significant presence at key tradeshows, including Pro Light + Sound in Frankfurt, and at PALME Middle East in Dubai. Both events are scheduled to take place in April.

MARTIN PROFESSIONAL A/S CONSOLIDATES EMEA DIVISION Martin Professional A/S will look to optimise its European sales subsidiaries following the creation of its new Martin EMEA regional sales division. The new division will be based at the company’s headquarters in Denmark and headed by Villads Thomsen, vice president for the EMEA market. Martin’s existing European subsidiaries will be integrated into the new structure. “The creation of Martin EMEA will help us better serve our customers by more effectively meeting their needs,” said Thomsen. “It is the optimal structure for us to strengthen customer relationships in the region. We also anticipate the reorganisation will allow us to optimise cross-border supply and support, arrange international Martin Professional has financing, consolidated its EMEA operations. and maintain n. competitive pricing structures in the EMEA region.”

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Digital signage tech gets physical Fitness First chain deploys new active signage technology from Ryarc Media Systems Global digital signage software company Ryarc Media Systems has been selected by First Media Group to deploy its digital signage software solutions in Fitness First health clubs located across the Middle East region. With UAE installations completed last month, the remaining Fitness First clubs in the Middle East, which are located in Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are expected to receive the digital network upgrade by the end of the first quarter. The installation of four to six screens in each club will be used as a platform for internal staff communications. The screens will also be used to display third-party advertising promotions, providing another important source of revenue for club owners. Ryarc’s end-to-end digital signage management platform, Campaign Manager, was chosen by Fitness First Middle East due to the recent success of Ryarc’s software deployment in 75 Fitness First clubs throughout Australia. The current schedule for Fitness First in the Middle East is to launch one new club per month. First Media Group (the Middle East arm

nology delivers on all these aspects and of Fitness First) said its aim was to have many more.” Ryarc’s Campaign Manager software opRyarc sales and marketing manager Ben erational within a month of each club’s Mooney said the company was “delightopening in the region. ed” to be working with Fitness First on The managing director of First Media the rollout of its digital signage network Group, Gareth Pearce, said the digital sigacross the Middle East. nage platform represented the “central “It is a testament to the flexibility, sucpillar” in the organisation’s strategy to cess and value of our products that Fitensure enhanced levels of communication ness First has rolled out Campaign Manwith club members. ager across multiple locations around the “Campaign Manager suits our requireworld,” he said. ments perfectly, offering an easy onestop-shop that Fitness First can rely upon for easy installation . al signage technology in the Middle East and technical Fitness First is rolling out Ryarc’s digit support,” he said. “Digital signage technology not only ensures internal accountability, but it also adds an important new dimension to our business model [implemented in the region]. Ryarc’s tech-

MELVILLE BIDS TO EXPAND BUSINESS WITH ABU DHABI APPOINTMENT UK-based Melville Exhibition and Event Services, a GES Worldwide Network company, has appointed Yasser al Maaytah as the director for Melville Middle East full-service contracting services. Al Maaytah was formerly the Middle East senior operations director for dmg world media and under his new appointment with Melville, al Maaytah will head-up the company’s Middle East operations from its Abu Dhabi office located in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). Melville Middle East is the exclusive provider of venue services at ADNEC. Under the terms of the contract, the company

08 SAS MARCH 2009

provides rigging, specialist lighting features and exclusive venue services. Melville chief executive Nick Marshall said the full-service offering would extend Melville’s business into shell scheme, stand wiring, furniture, carpet, graphics, logistics, custom design and build, and data and registration. “The appointment of Yasser represents the next stage of our drive to bring Melville’s full-service business to our organiser clients in the Middle East,” he said. “His objective is to launch Melville’s official services contracting business in the UAE.

“Yasser will have the full support and resources of both Melville in the UK and the entire GES Worldwide Network [to achieve this].” In addition to its deal with ADNEC, Melville provides venue services to some of the UK’s best known venues including the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, ExCel London, Manchester Central Exhibition and Conference Centre and Coventry’s Ricoh Arena. The company also offers various services on a consultancy basis. It most recently provided service support to the Cairo CityStars project in Cairo, Egypt last year.


Palladium applies finishing touches ahead of soft launc launch h The Palladium is undergoing final preparations ahead of its soft opening later this month


illed as the Middle East’s most flexible venue, The Palladium, situated in Dubai Media City, is already being dubbed as a model for a new generation of combined entertainment and event venues worldwide. The Palladium, built at a cost exceeding US$68 million, is the vision of Raymond Gaspar, Dubai-based entertainment and media entrepreneur. Gaspar aimed to create a venue capable of staging everything from large scale theatre

and musicals to rock and classical concerts, exhibitions banquets, and conferences. “We already have a lot of interest from international promoters about bringing in Broadway and West End London plays and musicals as well as everything from circuses to ballet,” said Gaspar. “I am proud to say there is, quite simply, nothing like The Palladium anywhere in the Middle East and North Africa.” Gaspar’s confidence in the uniqueness of the world class facilities of The Palladium is supported by Peter Brightman, managing director and CEO of the Creative Entertainment Group of the UK. “The Palladium is not only unique to the Middle East but I can’t think of another venue in the world with such flexibility and potential - and I have worked with most,” added Brightman. “The Palladium is a model for a whole new generation of venues.” Major events are being planned in the

coming months for The Palladium including the second Dubai International Advertising Festival, incorporating the Dubai Lynx Awards, taking place March 15-17. The festival, which claims to be one of the region’s leading creative advertising events, will make full use of The Palladium’s multipurpose facilities. Highlights of the event will include seminars, workshops, exhibitions and screenings of the nominated entries.

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March 2:Croatia’s coastal city of Split is the home of the new multipurpose complex, the Spaladium Arena. For the 28,500 square-metre arena, which features a seating capacity of 12,000, ChainMaster has installed four 6000 kg BGV-C1 JumboLifts, with absolute value encoders and load cells in VarioLift versions, along with a computerised controller and a switching cabinet for the positioning of a central video cube. The ChainMaster computerised controller boasts a number of additional features, including the emergency lowering system that is operated by a key switch and can be used in case of breakdown. ChainMaster has also installed four 500kg BGV-C1 chain hoists, with incremental encoders and load cells. The chain hoists are controlled via the company’s new proprietary proTouch conSplit’s new Spaladium Arena. trol system.

March 6: City Theatrical is supplying a host of Show DMX equipment to lighting contractor Howard Eaton Lighting for the production of Oliver, which is currently playing at the Theatre Royal, in London’s West End. Show DMX is being used to provide DMX control to dimmers and smoke machines mounted on a large scenic flying piece, which would otherwise have entailed a complex and troublesome cable run to the already crowded theatre flying grid. Production lighting designer Paule Constable and senior production electrician Gerry Amies are using lighting equipment primarily supplied by Stage Electrics.









London’s Theatre Royal.






Canada March 13: Lighting designer Jonathan (Leggy) Armstrong is using 21 of i-Pix’s BB7 LED wash lights and 19 i-Pix BB4 blinders on his new design for Bloc Party’s Intimacy world tour. It is the first time Armstrong has used i-Pix’s fixtures on one of his shows, a decision he says he made after seeing them in action on other productions. “I wanted to keep everything soft edged in keeping with the ‘intimacy’ theme, so I decided to go for an LED-based rig and used the BB7s as the main stage wash light,” he says. “I knew they were bright, but I have been really astounded by just how easily they can cover the whole stage.” Armstrong is running four BB7s a side for the front and stage washes and four on the stage floor behind each musician for silhouetting and other contrasting effects. The remaining nine BB7s are arranged in the form of an inverted triangle hung from the three rear trusses, which typically consists of a main truss with two sub-hangs. Fifteen of the BB4s are positioned on the stage floor running across the back of the stage to create a high-impact wall-of-light effect, while the other four are being used as footlights positioned along the front of stage.

12 SAS MARCH 2009

Bloc Party get intimate on their latest world tour.

“This gives me the option of lighting entire songs just with LEDs,” says Armstrong. The rig also contains Studio Beam moving lights, Source Four profiles, 4-lites, strobes and four floor PARs, but the BBs are the main fixtures on the rig. Armstrong says he prefers the colour range produced by the BB7s, particularly the pastel and more off-beat shades and hues, as it allows him to create a greater diversity of effects.

Spain March 30: Located on an industrial estate on the outskirts of Las Franquesas del Vallès, the shell of a standard factory unit has been transformed into new nightclub, Incognit. Carles Xandri, of Xandri Brothers SL, was called on by the owners to ensure the venue was acoustically sound. Xandri opted for a range of QSC Audio kit, including 14 active HPR152i loudspeakers, which are flown across the venue’s two individual rooms, underpinned by 12 floor-mounted HPR181i powered (single 18-inch) subwoofers. Custom-designed subs add low-frequency extension and power to the versatility of the biamped HPR152i. The technical installation also features an impressive degree of control flexibility. For example, the audio mix can be controlled using just six faders. To accomplish this, Xandri Brothers have designed the system around a QSC DSP 322ua processor, with a custom GUI developed using QSCreator. This is accessed from within Venue Manager, QSC’s system wide design software, which allows the creation of a simple, graphic user interface and can be customised for full routing flexibility.










Controlled over an Ethernet network via the Venue Manager software, the DSP 322ua is capable of storing up to eight signal flow design configurations, with nearly unlimited snapshot parameter recall. And with all data stored in the device, memory files can be uploaded from the unit to multiple computers simply and efficiently. In the case of Incognit, the technology allows the audio production team to output from either of the club’s two DJ booths — where QSC HPR122i enclosures have been installed for reference monitoring — while also operating their own Nothing incognito about this installation. individual systems.










Ageing MORs The Eagles



March 19: UK club Lush has undergone a high-end facelift with a technological upgrade totalling US$2.2 million. Peter Wilson, the managing director of the 2000-capacity venue (which is located in County Antrim, Northern Ireland) employed technology specialists Light and Sound FX (LSFX) to fit-out the club with a host of advanced LED media displays. Key highlights of the installation include a 12mm pixel pitch highresolution Marveon LED P12 indoor screen and a 37.5mm V-LED Spell, which displays graphic effects-laden video. The Marveon P12 display boasts 480 x 192 pixel resolution to deliver near broadcast quality images. Displaying video both synchronously and asynchronously, with 16.7 million colours, V-LED Spell’s 20 metre banner runs away from the club’s circular DJ/VJ booth to provide a 528 x Lush’s interior features the latest LED technology. 33 pixel scroll.

March 21: American rock legends The Eagles are employing Medialon Manager for live AV control on their current Long Road Out of Eden world tour. UK-based Medialon specialist, Automation 4, is overseeing the implementation of the technology. Technical director of Automation 4, David Birchall, says the software is being used by the assistant director to trigger the replay of six streams of HD video projected on a huge stage backdrop. The control system includes a Medialon Show Control Machine running one Medialon Manager PRO software license. Medialon is running with a timecode feed from Pro Tools, which is used as the master sync source for the show timelines to trigger the HD video on six Doremi Nuggets HD video players. Medialon Manager is also being used to change the video mask effects from two Vista Spyder video processors. “The combination of Medialon and robust coding by Automation 4 has proved a successful partnership,” says Birchall. MARCH 2009 SAS


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It’sBB ig usiness As a leader in the manufacture and design of a wide range of audio and infotainment products for the professional and consumer markets, Harman International has identified the Middle East as a key market in its expansion strategy.


espite the global economic downturn, publicly-listed Harman International has set itself a host of ambitious growth targets over the next three years, including the opening of 100 new stores across the Middle East. Headquartered in Connecticut, USA, Harman employs more than 11,000 staff worldwide and maintains a strong presence in the US, Europe and Asia. As a whole, Harman International announced that its results for the quarter ending December, 2008, were down across the board, with the Professional division’s net sales reduced by US$42.8 million, or 28.2% compared to the same period last year. Harman CEO Dinesh Paliwal says the drop in sales was primarily due to poor economic conditions affecting demand for professional products. However, despite this lower volume, he says the gross margins in the Professional division declined by only 0.5% for the quarter, compared to the d same period in the prior year. an vi da Fa ed mm ha Mo Harman Middle East MDtured at the store opening. Paliwal says this minimal decline Paliwal pic

reflects the impact of early cost reduction initiatives and improved mix through the introduction of new products. “We are clearly feeling the impact of the current economic turmoil and its effect on buyer confidence,” says Paliwal. “To align our costs and capacity with this lower demand, we have reduced employment by more than 900 during the first half of this fiscal year – mostly in the US and UK. We intend to reduce another 1100 jobs within this fiscal year. “Simultaneously, we are strengthening our footprint in the emerging markets, shifting some of the manufacturing and engineering activities to our newlyestablished operations in China, India, Hungary and Mexico. “Additionally, we will continue to invest in new products and research and development, and we intend to emerge as a more competitive company as we carefully manage our strong balance sheet and execute on our STEP Change cost savings programme.” The sweeping, 24-month, cost and productivity improvement initiative, STEP Change, which launched last July, is exSAS MARCH 2009



professional and The store features a range of

consumer products.

The company’s flagship Harman House store is located in Dubai Mall.

pected to deliver to Harman $400 million in cost and productivity improvements before the end of 2011. Paliwal says more than 240 separate program measures are currently being driven by dedicated regional project managers, an executive-level steering committee and an online financial tracking system that provides real-time transparency. The break down of the $400 million in cost productivity improvements by divisions are as follows: Automotive ($310 million), Consumer ($40 million), Professional ($40 million) and other ($10 million). By the close of the current fiscal year, the company will have eliminated more than 2000 jobs, representing more than 15 percent of its workforce. However, Harman is shifting some capacity to the emerging markets as part of its global footprint optimisation. “This challenging economic environment has forced us to make some difficult decisions, but we are taking the actions necessary to align our cost structure with market demand,” Paliwal states. “We are committed to managing the company’s resources to sustain and grow shareholder value. We will leave no stone unturned in order to emerge from the current economic cycle as a much stronger company in both productivity and innovation.

16 SAS MARCH 2009

ers can always afford to buy, even in dif“Last year, Harman International, reficult economic times. ported around five billion in physical “Unfortunately, this current economic sales, which highlights the company’s environment is unprecedented and it’s growth story. proving to be extremely difficult for eve“We have been growing year-on-year ryone – most people are being extremely and even in this difficult [economic] encautious and delaying investing in new vironment and we are confident we will products,” he informs. do better than our competitors.” “While we are feeling the effects of Paliwal says 2009 will be another chalthe economic downturn, I think 2009 lenging year as Harman continues to exwill prove to be an interesting year for ecute a record number of new launches Harman. Even when we first started to and restructures its operations to ensure feel the pinch of the recession in 2008, its global leadership as the premium prowe continued to be aggressive in the vider of infotainment and audio systems. marketplace and invest heavily in new “We remain committed to compleproducts – 65 percent of our professional menting our top-line growth with foproducts have been on the market for cused improved earnings,” he says. two years or less, which is unique in the “The outlook for 2009 is mixed. We professional industry.” are seeing slowing growth in Western Paliwal predicts 2009 will be a dynamic markets, but at the same time we are year for Harman’s Professional business seeing tremendous development in the sector and that the industry could expect Middle East, India, Russia, China and South America. Additionally, there is a lot to see a greater number of new product happening for Harman in South America, releases compared to 2008. “In difficult times I always find that gainparticularly in Venezuela, Brazil, Argening market share is your biggest opportutina and Peru. nity for success, if you are able to release “We’re very busy in the region curnew products into the marketplace and if rently and that’s the beauty of being a you can retain your energy and investment global company – it gives us that exposure into different markets.” The media scrum pictured at the store’s official opening. Paliwal says Harman used to say that it was resilient to economic downturns because it focuses on high-end products and generally its key custom-


level you will gain a lot of market share,” he says. As Harman continues to push ahead with its development of new technologies, Paliwal says “the future is digital and connectivity will become the name of the game”. “Harman is really pushing ahead with its research and development into the digital market, including digital signal processing, digital integration and digital connectivity,” he confirms. “We are also investing heavily in new markets such as the Ukraine, Russia, Hungry, China and India. We have 130 developers working put of our research and development operations in India and within five years we plan to have 1000 people working in that area alone.” Paliwal says while Harman derives 80 percent of its revenue from the Western Europe and America markets, the company is experiencing double-digit growth

“The future is digital and connectivity will become the name of the game.” Dinesh Paliwal. in the Middle East, China, Russia and India markets. “Infrastructure in the Western world is still predominately analogue, however in the Middle East, China, Russia and India markets they are going straight to digital high-end technology,” he states. “Therefore, the technological demands we get from these new and developing markets is much more robust than what we get from the US for example. The Middle East in particular, is very technologically demanding. “In order to cater for this, Harman is investing heavily in its training and product road shows. We are also moving people from our European centres into the Middle East region, so they can be on the front line when it comes to assist-

ing with new equipment. “The focus for Harman in the Middle East going forward will be on large-scale infrastructure, sporting complexes and places of worship – these are big areas for us and millions of dollars in technology is being invested in these types of applications throughout the country. “The Middle East is a prestige location for us and we are looking to align our self with all the major projects throughout the Middle East.” Under the Harman International family of brands key names including AKG, Audioaccess, Becker, BSS, Crown, dbx, DigiTech, Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon, Mark Levinson, Revel, QNX, Soundcraft and Studer are represented.




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While the outlook for the live events production industry remains positive, Middle East-based promoters, event managers and rental companies have voiced concerns about the current challenges facing their businesses. S&S spoke to some of the local industry’s leading lights about their plans to address these and other issues in 2009.

20 SAS MARCH 2009


S&S: What steps, if any, is AEG taking to adapt its business in light of the current economic downturn? The industry here consists of a mix of large and small operators with different agendas. I can only speculate as to how other operators will approach the current economic downturn, but from our perspective, we plan to implement a ’buy smart’ philosophy rather than reducing the number of events we do. While we might face issues with ticket sales and envisage that the high ticket prices will have to come down we should also try to use this situation to get our suppliers back in check and perhaps we can make ends meet that way. S&S: Can you foresee the possibility of promoters pulling resources together and working in collaboration (to an extent) given the challenging circumstances? I wouldn’t rule out that some smaller operators may align themselves with some of the more established companies, as even the bigger companies will have to look at smaller jobs they may have dismissed in the past as not feasible.

“We now have a unique opportunity to put together the best possible team and come out of the downturn even stronger than before.”

S&S: How important are audience numbers in this mix? Ensuring audience numbers remain high is not a goal in itself, but making a profit is. Therefore, I think we will be more critical when assessing large scale events and artist fees, while smaller events, and in particular a higher frequency of smaller events, could be a good way to offset a couple of bigger more risky events. I’m sure there will be an even longer queue of promoters trying to do business with the few government entities still investing in live music events in the region – safe commission-based business or talent brokerage might be seen as the saviour for some operators that are living on margins. S&S: What type of events do you expect to bring to market in 2009? In a weakened market more commercial and ‘safe’ events remain the best bet. However, that is pretty much how we have operated up until now, so I think you will see a few operators cutting back on events in general, trying to sell their services to government entities instead of risking their own monies, while others will plan on smaller events than usual. I think AEG will do both, while still promoting some of the iconic top artists that we have touring in other parts of the world. S&S: Do you think the formation of an industry lobby group would help in promoting transparency? I don’t think we need an industry body to achieve this. However, we could do with a united front when dealing with the local rules and regulations, local legislation or lack of the same and the way our industry, if regulated by the authorities, would allow us to get more organised pricing and quality levels with suppliers and so on.

S&S: How do plan to tackle the escalating cost of sourcing and renting equipment? In the past we have had to live with suppliers charging what they want simply because they can. Now that suppliers will be struggling to maintain their 2007-2008 level of business, it’s time for us as an industry to reverse that trend and force prices down. The suppliers that have maintained their support will of course still benefit from loyal business bookings, but I think a lot of changes will happen regarding key industry suppliers within the sound, lighting and logistical services sector. S&S: What new ventures does AEG plan to invest in this year? AEG will be buying smart when it comes to events and acquisitions. In regards to staff, we now have a unique opportunity to put together the best possible team and come out of the downturn even stronger than we were before. S&S: Is AEG keen to establish permanent venues in the Middle East? We do have plans, but as to what we will need to wait and see what materialises and how many of the alleged future venue owners will be able to proceed with their projects. AEG is the leading arena management company globally, so I would be surprised if we were not involved with some form of arena project within the coming few years.

AEG has enjoyed success promoting artists such as George Michael.





“I think the industry outside the region finds it difficult to understand things work differently in this part of the world.” fake tattoo parlour and so on. Other services, including free bus shuttles are always appreciated and are an extra value-added benefit to increase ticket sales. Regarding promotions, we have just revamped Desert Rock’s festival’s image with the help of TBWA/RAAD and Christian Scheurer, the designer behind the Matrix and Final Fantasy. So far it’s generated a lot of buzz online since we revealed the artwork in January, and we are waiting to see if this approach helps us reach-out to new audiences.

S&S: Do you think local promoters can pull resources together and work in collaboration (to an extent) to ensure the longevity of the live events market in the region? There are international organisations, such as the International Festivals and Events Association, which is based in the UAE for this specific reason. I also noticed such collaboration in 2008, with organisers asking others to organise their VIP areas and so on. Why not? We are not many, so why not help each other? Promoters can’t forget that we are all in competition with each other, but competition is good for the audience as it promotes content diversity and so on. S&S: How will you diversify the level and type of content you bring to, or promote in the region to ensure that audience numbers are kept high? As we organise festivals it enables us with the opportunity to create new on-site activities to attract all ages and types of event goers. At last year’s Desert Rock we hosted the world premiere of the suspended bar, in addition to the Infusion dance tent and the arts and crafts area for children. At the Back 2 School festival we included games like ‘dunk the teacher’ and at the Urban Desert festival we had graffiti walls, a


S&S: What type of shows and performers can we expect to see come to the region in 2009? Where is the market demand coming from? From our side, the market demand is coming from Desert Rock’s metal fans. Every day, we receive dozens of e-mails requesting for particular rock bands and we keep a record of them to ensure we are keeping-up with these trends. S&S: How will you tackle, or trim down the growing rate of operational

and rental costs from your local business partners? We started to contract production jobs to companies outside of Dubai in 2008 and will continue doing so in 2009. Even with having to pay the shipping and travel costs for the staff, the rate of operational and rental costs still remains more cost effective than to for us to use companies in Dubai, and also more professional, with better quality products and services. S&S: What new ventures will CSM look to invest in through 2009 and beyond? In 2008, we organised two festivals in South Africa. This year, we are branching out into Hollywood under the name of Scorpio International, which will specialise in music, reality TV and movies. In the UAE, CSM will continue its event organisation. The end of 2009 will mark CSM’s 10th anniversary, so diversifying seems like a natural thing to do at this moment.

ivities to the mix. CSM adds a host of act

Corporate events Live Concerts Product Launches Weddings

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“To tackle the key issues, the industry must mature quickly, control costs, deliver higher standards of health and safety, manage risk through insurance and maintain sensible pricing.” tough – these fixed costs will be onerous as it will restrict the company’s ability to adapt its client portfolio and will also result in the failure to maintain imperative technological investments. S&S: What new ventures is Gearhouse looking to invest in through 2009 and beyond? Gearhouse will move forward with the development of HD production offerings, in conjunction with digital transfer technolo-

S&S: Do you think promoters and rental companies should work more closely together to ensure the longevity of the live events sector? Why? Free markets don’t encourage this, and the market is set either by the client or consumer demand rather than the actions of the promoter, and certainly not by the rental company. S&S: Do you think the formation of an industry lobby group would help in promoting transparency? This is always a good idea and has been tried locally since 1996, but has proven to be difficult to introduce. Now there are several organisations attempting to do this, which makes it less likely to be a representative body – as a result, confidence is low. S&S: How do you think the local promoters and rental companies are placed to deal with the current economic challenges? Rental companies that are carrying medium to heavy debt ratios and have not already made the investment in owned premises will find the going particularly

24 SAS MARCH 2009

gies to further push the quality of production levels in the region. S&S: Given the costs of overheads, will you still be focusing your attention on the Dubai/Abu Dhabi market or looking to expand further into the greater Middle East region to create new revenue streams? Sixty percent of our business happens outside the UAE and this diversity will assist us should the country’s economic downturn become significant. To date the industry has not yet been too affected by the downturn and it appears most industry players are enjoying decent revenue flows. It’s critical that pricing remains at a sensible level to encourage further investment, while not encouraging further debt. Dropping pricing to win business is short term and never produces the right results.

The production of the Atlantis launch party brought together some of the industry’s biggest players.


S&S: What are the key challenges facing your business at the moment? Organisers want set up times to be reduced as they generally pay per day for the venue and therefore want the work done in the shortest time possible. This is not unreasonable, but there are limits to what can be achieved in certain timeframes. More problems occur when venue organisers book shows too close together without due consideration for the timescales involved in erecting and dismantling temporary stages and supporting site structures. We have seen substantial growth in the events industry over the last few years and dealing with multiple events on the same weekend for example has become the norm rather than the exception. S&S: How can the main issues be addressed in your view? They can be dealt with by improving the planning of some events and getting decisions made sooner. As a supplier investing in equipment, these initiatives will help speed-up the build times and enable suppliers to have bigger stocks of equipment available to cater for simultaneous events. S&S: What do you make of the lack of permanent large-scale venues available in the region?

Al Laith supplied the stage for Iron Maiden’s recent performance at Dubai Media City.


“The pressures on all suppliers to the event industries are increasing due to the time constraints placed on us.” The industry would definitely benefit from the establishment of a permanent venue. Somewhere that could house some temporary infrastructure. A theatre-type production does not suit a large open space and large concerts do not fit in to constrained spaces. The type of production and layout varies enormously from one event to the other.

Elissa Murtaza, managing director for Live Nation Middle East says co-promoting events during challenging economic times is a sensible approach. “We are working with UAE-based promoter Flash to co-produce the Coldplay gig later this month in Abu Dhabi. “Regional promoters would benefit from an organised body to represent their common interests, especially in the UAE where there is a fairly large group of established promoters, who until now, have little or no say in the rights and wrongs of the local regulations ruling over the industry here. “As a company we established ourselves as a regional promoter (Mirage Promotions) many years before becoming a Dubai-based promoter. We are taking advantage of our long established relationships in the Gulf and across the region and will continue to either co-promote or book talent for clients throughout 2009.”






AVenue Downtown Dubai’s latest luxury hotel complex, The Address, is laden with tens of thousands of LEDs and an abundance of subtly disguised, yet effective audio technologies. Patrick Elligett reports on how the discreetly designed hotel AV installation is producing maximum impact.


lluminated at night by a dazzling array of lights, The Address has already cemented a position of note on Dubai’s world-famous skyline. The hotel’s 63 floors boast some of the world’s most advanced AV technologies, deployed in a manner which greatly enhances the venue’s overall presentation. Considering its attention-grabbing external appearance, created by a swarm of LEDs, the interior design is surprisingly subtle. But while AV technologies remain well-disguised, their impact on the ambience of the hotel is evident. Even throughout the hotel’s meeting

rooms, where an abundance of innovative lighting, projection and audio technology is present, technical equipment is stealthily concealed to avoid disrupting the hotel’s striking aesthetics. The subtlety of the technology was an aspect of the building’s design that was considered from the project’s conception, according to Madan Kulkarni, director of engineering at The Address. “The project was well planned from its inception, which is where all the adjustments were made to ensure our AV technology remained discreet,” he reveals. He says the latest technology was seSAS MARCH 2009



“It is virtually maintenance free for a system so sophisticated.” - Madan Kulkarni. lected to ensure the appearance of AV equipment remained subtle. “In the 63rd floor Neos Bar, for example, we used fibre optic lights that run down the wall. “Metal halide light shone from the projector base unit through the prismatic lance helps to create the trickling effect.” In The Address’ meeting rooms, where the AV setup is most adaptable, in order to cater for a variety of functions, the audio technology resides within the walls of the structure, completely hidden to those within the room. Controlling everything contained within these meeting rooms, including projections, audio, lighting and even the movement of the curtains and blinds, is a task that can be singularly undertaken using the AMX touch screen control system, which was integrated by Bond Communications. The seven-inch touch screens are used in wall-mounted and portable

30 SAS MARCH 2009

tem so sophisticated. Some work is required to keep the system online at all times, but this is not a very demanding task.” Sameh Ibrahim, area IT manager at The Address, says the implementation of the control system presented some challenges, as a result of the complexity of the control system network. “The installation is entirely structured around our AMX network-based solution,” he says. “We have different switches in the appropriate areas which are all connected to our central core switch, which is then connected to our central server.” Atmospheric music, appropriate to the different areas of the hotel is also downloaded to the hotel’s central server. “The software program we use is called Music Styling, which allows us to download music that matches the mood of different areas within the hotel by sorting it into categories,” says Ibrahim. “We can also manually override these themes to play the music of different artists or adjust the Sameh Ibrahim, area IT manager, The Address. volume,” he adds. “This can be controlled via various touch-screen stations

versions throughout the hotel. Some function as centralised control units, while each major area requiring AV control, such as bars, restaurants and meeting rooms, have been equipped with remote versions of the system. “This is part of our strategy to achieve consistency and flow in terms of the interior lighting,” says Kulkarni. “We have a system whereby any AV adjustments that need to be made are reported to the director of food and beverage, who approves any necessary modifications to the control system.” Kulkarni says the same AMX AV control system is used in some of the UAE’s best venues, such as Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace Hotel. Although the entire AV installation at The Address is operated via this control system, Kulkarni says: “It is virtually maintenance free for a sys-




the hotel’s AV staff. ring, The Address, flanked by inee eng of ctor dire ni, kar Madan Kul

throughout the hotel, such as the bar and restaurant areas for example, where the staff can control the audio system for particular areas of the hotel if they need to, and make any required adjustments.” Kulkarni says the AV installation project team selected various audio technologies from an assortment of vendors in order to ensure the best quality for each application. “We selected the best products from each company,” he says. “The hotel’s amplification system was supplied by Crown Audio, Tannoy provided the majority of the outside speakers, and we selected Denon-manufactured CD players.” Other prominent vendors of audio equipment were chosen for varying aspects of the installation, such as BSS Audio, JBL and Extron. Project organisers were also responsible for selecting a diverse range of lighting fixtures and projection equipment throughout the 63-floor venue. A selection of 4K, 4.5K and 6K Christie projectors are installed in the venue’s meeting rooms and ballrooms. While projectors are possibly among the most difficult pieces of AV technology to conceal, high wall mountings and eye-catching nearby lighting techniques keep the equipment well-hidden from

32 SAS MARCH 2009

the attention of the Fibre optic cables reflect projected light in the hotel’s Neos Bar. hotel’s patrons. One of the interior hotel’s time delay lighting system is of lighting highlights of the hotel is its consuch high importance. stantly changing colour scheme, which is “The daylight affects our light sensor, dependent on the time of day and gradwhich in turn affects the lighting on the ually changes with the help of external inside of the building.” light sensors. Despite the thousands of LED fixtures The hotel’s music system is also proand conventional lights which make up grammed to adjust its theme in tandem the installation, Kulkarni insists that the with the lighting, correlating to produce environmental impact of the building’s the desired effect relating to a particular AV infrastructure remains minimal. time of day. “Most of the lighting we use Kulkarni says the complete lighting installation for the hotel was implemented by International Electro-Mechanical Services (IEMS), which imported light fittings from various countries such as the US and Germany. He names the automated interior lighting adaptations, and the time-delayed façade lighting as key highlights of the hotel’s extensive lighting array. “With the help of Photocell light dependent resistors and the time delay effect, the lighting on the hotel’s façade is gradually powered up over ten minutes,” he explains. “Because of the high concentration of power there, we can’t just switch on all the lights in one go. “The façade lighting alone requires three quarters of a megawatt of power to function properly, which is why the

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has a very long lifespan, for example, LED, plus all our bulbs are highly energy efficient.” The hotel’s AV technicians are quick to pay tribute to the contribution of those involved in the various stages of the installation. Along with the teams from Bond Communications and IEMS, Madan Kulkarni applauds the work of many participants in the installation process. He says Andre Van Huyssteen, project manager for Mirage; Vijay Pachare, senior electrical engineer for Atkins; Daniel Wood, project manager for CML International; and Alan Mitchell, creative managing director for Neolight Design, all played an important role in the design

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and implementation process of the hotel’s AV installation. Few lighting fixtures are visible inside the venue, speakers are concealed within walls in some places and blended with the building in others. Control systems are hidden and even projectors are tucked away from public view.

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Ease of control, adaptability and effectiveness remain among the primary objectives for AV project managers, however this hotel provides a shining example of how different AV technologies can be successfully melded together within a discreet, well-concealed installation, and still maintain a powerful effect.

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US-based digital display manufacturer, D3LED, has entered into a partnership with a local distributor, Digital Displays and Devices, to bring its products to the Middle East. Patrick Elligett reports on how technological developments are creating new markets for the company’s LED display range.

36 SAS MARCH 2009


raditionally associated with advertising and public information billboards, the potential market of LED displays has expanded in recent years to encompass sporting arenas, live events, and nightclub installations. While there are many fiscal reasons for manufacturers to expand the capabilities of the technology they supply, the product itself must also be capable of meeting the demands of various applications. Significant technological advancements over the past decade, such as the ability to stream high quality video, and improved resistance to harsh climatic conditions, have led to the increased adoption of LED displays outside of the usual advertising-related applications.

For live event applications, it is the reliability of display technology that is of paramount importance, according to Jason Barak, managing partner of D3LED. He says that while developing billboard displays for high profile advertisers, Disney and the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), D3LED technicians introduced the concept of redundancy in data and power, to ensure any failure of the display’s individual modules and data transport devices does not affect the display as a whole. “ABC and Disney actually asked us, and pushed us, to work closely with their engineering team to develop redundancy in both data and power,” reveals Barak. “This means that if we lose a power supply or one of the data transport de-

D3LED products on display at the

vices, then what happens is that the other paths or portions of the display will pick up, resulting in minimal down-time,” he explains. “With dual Ethernet connections [in each individual module], we can feed data from both ends using span entry protocol, so if one of the modules, or one of the data deliveries misses a beat, we can send information the other way, resulting in redundancy protection for display data.” While the company’s safeguards against failure at critical moments have increased the popularity of its products within the live events industry, the criteria for adopting displays in more permanent installations is different altogether.

company’s roadshow in Dub ai.

Sporting arenas and nightclub installations are sectors where the lifespan of a display is of prime importance, next to functionality and aesthetics. D3LED’s head of operations and manufacturing, George Pappas, says extending the lifespan of displays has been a key area of improvement in recent years. “One way we have extended the lifespan of the circuits is by under-driving them, and the other area is cooling,” he says. “Nichia manufactures all the LED lamps for our displays, and they have also made considerable progress in regard to lifespan by developing better UV protection, better chips, better epoxies and better manufacturing methods.” He says adjusting the brightness of a display can also have a considerable impact on its longevity. “The industry standard of acceptable luminance for outdoor displays is approximately 5000 nit (candela per square metre),” says Pappas. “But we think it should be between 5500 and 6000, so the majority of our displays are built to handle between 9000 or 10,000 nit and then we run them at 6000,” he explains. “That way, as the display gets older,

George Pappas, managing partner of D3LED.

you still have an overhead where you can keep turning up the display, therefore extending its life.” Due to the often harsh climatic conditions that impact the Middle East, many local venue managers have been reluctant to install outdoor display technology in the past, because of the potential for heat to accelerate the degradation of electronic components. D3LED management admit that heat is one of the traditional nemeses of digital displays, and say the company has addressed this issue via its manufacturing methods, as Nichia has done in the manufacturing of the diodes themselves. “Our diagnostics and control systems include thresholds to protect against heat, for example we can set it so that at 50 degrees centigrade, the display will dim down significantly and if it reaches 55, we could shut it off completely,” says Barak. “Our preventative diagnostics will automatically send text messages to the technicians and service personnel, warning them if the display is at risk of overheating,” he adds. “We have integrated new technology such as gigabit Ethernet connections, Cisco switches, better power supplies and improved drive systems, which all contribute to the smooth operation of the processes that protect our display SAS MARCH 2009




n D3LED says sporting arenas in the regio

systems against water and heat.” Popular Dubai nightclub Chi at the Lodge is proceeding with the installation of a series of LED screens surrounding the central dance floor of the venue, according to Tony D’Souza, director of operations at D3LED’s local distribution arm, Digital Displays and Devices. Screens of varying sizes and shapes will be implemented for displaying video and lighting arrangements to guests, to synchronise with musical entertainment. The flexibility of the company’s individual display modules was originally developed to properly sculpt displays to inconsistent building exteriors for large media façades, which inadvertently improved the technology’s adaptability for more intricate nightclub installations such as Chi at the Lodge. Pappas says the company’s vertical display modules can be of both a concave or convex nature, allowing for greater flexibility in the design of the display, and its ability to be deployed in a variety of applications. “What we did, was take the original drawings from building exteriors and recreate the basic design of the module around those, because there are inside and outside curves on most buildings and we have to keep our displays consistent in order to maintain a nice clear image,” he says. “With one of our largest projects in Times Square, New York, we prepared prototype

38 SAS MARCH 2009

nology. will benefit from the company’s tech

vertical panels, to make sure the display With falling would properly fit the existing structure.” worldwide adD. High quality video streaming capabilities vertising revenues aging partner, D3LE Jason Barak, man have also played a part in helping digital dis- in recent months, play technology encroach on new markets. digital display The ability to process the large amounts of manufacturers are taking the opportunity to data required for such applications is a task move outside their habitual comfort zone that most digital displays are now perfectly and make a concerted push into the growcapable of handling. ing digital display market in sporting areOne of D3LED’s largest displays is able to nas, live events and club installations. process 150 Gb of data per second across The marketing manoeuvre into the more than four thousand square metres of Middle East, to take advantage of the display, at an image quality of approximately growth in demand for live event and 40 megapixels, according to the company. venue installations, is something that Pappas says the display management and could pay dividends for D3LED should control software for video input and image a slump in advertising impact the digital adjustment is simple to use, billboard market. and can be operated remotely which is an important benefit for operators at live events. “The control software responsible for managing the display is web-based,” he says. As part of D3LED’s partnership with local “It will accept DVI input distribution company, Digital Displays and gigabit Ethernet output and Devices, sporting events are set to but we can also use on-board become one of the key target markets gigabit Ethernet right out of a for the use of LED display technology. computer, so we can run dis“Sporting events staged in the Middle East Tony D’Souza, director of ope rati plays off laptops with webwill be a target market of ours, and the ons , Digital Displays and Devices . based html software.” Dubai Sports City development is of particular


He says the control system is also extremely agnostic in terms of how it is driven, and although D3LED provides tailor-made software, the display can still be operated through Windows Media Player, or any other off-the-shelf player. The ease of control, growing adaptability, and technological improvement of digital displays are opening doors for manufacturers of both digital displays and LEDs themselves.

interest to us,” reveals Tony D’Souza, director of operations for Digital Displays and Devices. “Another market we plan to target is consultants and lighting designers, who want to see the various possibilities of what they can do with digital display technology,” he adds. “If you give these creative guys the opportunity to see what these displays can do, they could incorporate them into the futuristic building and nightclub designs we see in certain venues in Dubai.”


On the road again Eliska Hill, GM of Chapman Freeborn Air Chartering, discusses the logistical challenges facing the Middle East live events sector.

Behind the scenes: Logistics challenges in the Middle East


hen the applause dies down and the crowds drift away the concert/event can be quickly forgotten, but for the logistics team responsible for moving the stage and sound equipment, it is time for action. As the live events industry runs a tight ship in regards to turn-around times,

40 SAS MARCH 2009

there is no time to waste. So, immediately as the lights go down on stage, the crew get busy in their preparation to pack and load the equipment ready for it to be transported to its next destination, or if leased, it is returned promptly to avoid any extra charges. This is where the second phase of the logistics cycle kicks into action, and again, so too do the various challenges in mov-

ing this specialist equipment in and out of the Middle East. Few people have any idea of the huge logistical operation that is involved in ensuring that all the stage equipment, an artist or band required for a concert is in place and ready on time. But, it is something that two locally based companies take in their stride after many years of experience.


lar destinations for becoming increasingly popu are i ab Dh u Ab d an i ba Du Chapman Freeborn, a global logistics company specialising in aircraft chartering, has provided many cargo aircraft over the years for various events and concert tours, as a small, but significant, part of their general air charter business. The company also regularly provides both private executive jets for the artist or larger VIP configured aircraft for bands and their entourage. With 35 years of experience in chartering and 36 offices around the world, it provides the largest network of aircraft and brokers ready to deal with a variety of charter requirements, to ensure the equipment arrives on time. Chapman Freeborn has been based in the UAE for 10 years and through its offices in Dubai and Sharjah, provides extensive services for both passenger and cargo charter flights within the region and globally. Chapman Freeborn works closely with EFM, a specialist freight project management company providing high-end service to the sports, events, exhibition and entertainment industries. EFM has been operating since 2000 and has five offices in the US, Europe and the Middle East.

“The GCC countries present unique challenges when it comes to transporting stage and sound equipment.� Commencing operations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 2008, EFM brings European levels of service in the movement of stage and sound equipment. While much of the equipment required for a concert can be moved by scheduled airline services, sometimes the amount of cargo and/or the time frame required to move it between concert venues requires a dedicated cargo aircraft. In this case Chapman Freeborn and EFM work together to ensure that every item is moved safely and quickly. One of the key factors that is very important to Chapman Freeborn and EFM is protecting the identity of the artists and bands for whom they move personnel and equipment on behalf of. While both companies have an extensive roster of major clients, details will remain undisclosed to the general public. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are becoming increasingly popular on the concert circuit,

and the event promoters are attracting big name acts to perform one-off concerts here or add in an extra performance within their tour schedule. Whilst previously, the UAE was seen as too far off the radar to be of interest, now we are seeing more and more of the major artists performing here. Promoters are winning the battle to promote the UAE as a viable alternative venue. Various logistical challenges arise when an artist is based in the US or UK, and is simply making an appearance for a oneoff concert. Firstly, the management company assigns a production company that will then deal with a logistics team. Depending on what is available at the location, the team will establish which equipment that artist or band requires to be moved to the venue. An artist can travel with an incredible amount of equipment ranging from instruments and sound equipment, to lighting and giant video walls. The GCC countries present unique challenges when it comes to transporting stage and sound equipment, and both



“Transporting equipment by road from Dubai to Doha through Saudi Arabia can present a host of issues... The time taken to transport equipment on this route is four days, with three days allowed just for the customs procedures within each country traversed.” Chapman Freeborn and EFM are fully experienced in dealing with whatever challenges present themselves. For example, transporting equipment by road from Dubai to Doha through Saudi Arabia can present a host of issues. Delays at the Saudi border can be a major issue and one key point is to make sure that the cargo is easily accessible to the sniffer dogs checking the shipment. This will mean that crates and boxes are not forced open and equipment moved and possibly damaged. The time taken to transport equipment on this route is four days, with three days allowed just for the customs procedures within each country transversed. Often this can be quite critical if there is another event following on. If a company is not aware of these issues, they may commit to a two day transit, and the equipment can be delayed. The heat in the Middle East is a major factor that has to be taken into consideration, especially with transporting kit around the GCC area. Whilst previously

open trucks would have been provided, the increased value of modern equipment, and the risk of border delays, means this is no longer an option. EFM has recently purchased a custom built three ton truck specially designed to carry valuable equipment around the region. Moving items such as orchestra instruments around the GCC is another issue, as the high temperatures can often affect the sensitive mechanisms. To combat this issue, refrigerated trucks are used as they provide the right ambient temperature along with a secure environment. For shipping equipment in and out of the Middle East in a tight time frame, air freight is the only option. Combining the issues of the volume of equipment, the time frame between concerts, and the location of the venues before and after the concert creates a picture of whether a scheduled service or chartered aircraft will be more suitable. As an example, moving 30 tons of equipment from the UAE to South Amer-

ica within three days provides a close call, but often the cost factors involved will push towards the scheduled services. Dubai has developed to become a major hub within the global airline network, and provides an excellent intermediary point between East and West. This allows for regular connections from USA and Europe to Dubai, and on to the Far East to service the event industry requirements. The scheduled versus charter market for moving concert/event equipment is around 90% in favour of scheduled services. The cost factor of moving kit on a scheduled flight is far smaller than providing a dedicated charter aircraft. However sometimes the locations and timings of the other event before and after the concert in the UAE, does not tie in with the airline’s schedules and only the charter option will work. Due to the nature of the music and events industry, Chapman Freeborn often won’t always receive the final weights and dimensions for the equipment from the promoter until the last minute, which makes the load planning and aircraft type allocation very difficult. While on one hand, none of the equipment can be left behind, the promoter doesn’t want to pay for a half-empty aircraft. One of the other problems we face here in the Gulf are issues with certain types of aircraft. Many airports within the GCC are restricting operations for older, noisier aircraft and others are not permitting aircraft with certain registrations to land. This makes it harder to source suitable aircraft that can be cost effective. Another concern is that, while loading staff in Europe are trained to handle sensitive concert equipment, airport staff within the GCC regions are often more used to handling general cargo and are not aware of the special handling requirements and which units can be tipped, or the impact that rough handling can have. This is important mainly for the charter flights, when the cargo may not be palletized and hence bulk loaded on the airport. Often much of the equipment is packed in wheeled flight cases, which is always difficult to load and stack within SAS MARCH 2009


an aircraft. Chapman Freeborn aims to arrange for trucks to obtain airside access to deliver to and collect directly from the aircraft, to minimise the handling of the equipment. As the value of the cargo is often very high, it is important to ensure everyone involved, handling agents and airline crew are made aware careful handling is a must. To ensure everything is loaded safely, EFM and Chapman Freeborn provide their own staff to supervise the loading and sometimes even travel with the aircraft. Due to the size of Chapman Freeborn’s network, they can often utilise an aircraft that may be located nearer the departure point to minimise the positioning costs, or combine with another flight to reduce the cost to the end client. Sometimes there may be two concerts happening in the same area at the same time and flights can be combined to create two one-way options to reduce the cost. The key factor is that when there are back-to-back shows with a flight in between, there is simply no room for any major delays. Moving dangerous equipment, for example fireworks, by air within the GCC regions provides a whole new set of challenges. The permissions required are extensive and need to be fully researched to find the optimum solution. When a last minute request came in on a Thursday afternoon to ship fireworks from Doha to Muscat for a National Day celebration on Saturday night, only quick action from the Chapman Freeborn charter team in Dubai meant the required over flight permits were approved in time, to allow the chartered AN26 aircraft to operate over UAE airspace during the weekend. The fireworks arrived and the event was a success. If the equipment has to be hired, the time frame moving it to and from the venue is pretty critical. If arriving by air, sometimes equipment will arrive in one lot, and then will be split up and moved

of shipping concert equipment in and out of the GCC. While expensive, airfreight remains the simplest way

to different locations for further hiring with other bands, or sent back to its base location. This can often raise challenges with customs in the Middle East, as the number of pieces can change multiple times, and this requires co-ordination with customs officials. Concert equipment needs to be in place well before the event, to allow plenty of time for set up and sound checks. This makes everything more time critical and depending on the amount of equipment,

means that not only a Plan A, be investigated but wherever possible a Plan B. Finally, the most important aspect is that Chapman Freeborn understand the complex issues involved in any project and are prepared for any eventuality they may encounter. The promoters can be secure in the knowledge that their equipment will be safe in the hands of professionals, and will be moved as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible.



NEW PRODUCTS MILAB MICROPHONES MILAB DEBUTS BDM-01 MIC Milab will showcase its latest range of products at this year’s Prolight+Sound expo, including the BDM-01 bass drum microphone. With the inclusion of optimised range, sensitivity and pop filters, the microphone is designed to cope with solid, powerful sounds. With a presence peak close to five kHz, the company claims the product is capable of handling up to 155 decibels of volume without audible distortion. Perfectly suited for the purpose of capturing the sound of the bass drum

DENON in both live event and studio applications, this transformerless mic consumes only 4 mA of current from the potential 60 mA that the 48V Phantom power supply can accommodate. From an aesthetic perspective, the BDM-01 is discreet in design, standing at 142mm in length and weighing-in at 210g, meaning at a live gig, the kick drum won’t be hidden behind audio equipment. With a gold-plated XLR connector, Milab Michrophones has done all it can to ensure quality audio content from the unique and low frequency output of the bass drum. Versatility is obviously not this product’s strong point, but if you are simply in need of a good bass drum mic the BDM-01 is definitely worth checking out. WWW.MILABMIC.COM

TURNING THE TABLES DJ hardware and software specialist Denon has launched its new direct drive turntable, the DN-S3700. The 12-pole Direct Drive brushless motor is capable of producing a powerful 2.5 kg/ cm of start-up torque within 0.5 seconds for true turntable reaction and response. Denon claims DJs can perform freely on this nineinch platter design mounted with a real vinyl record as if they were using a genuine analogue turntable. Platter rotation can be changed from 33 to 45 RPM. for comfort. The illuminated, fast loading, quick-reading slotin drive reads and supports standard CDs in a variety of formats including CD-R, CDRW and CD-ROM. It is also compatible with digital audio formats such as MP3, MP4 and AAC. The DN-S3700 is well

equipped for the modern DJ and conveniently supports external USB mass storage class devices. The DN-S3700 is also designed to control a variety of popular audio/video DJ software applications. The DN-S3700 features five built-in DSP effects with full parameter adjustments via a unique dry/wet mix control of the BPM synchronised effects: flanger, filter-(HighMid-Low), echo, and Denon’s proprietary echo loop. WWW.DENONDJ.COM

DANISH INTERPRETATION SYSTEMS DIS TALKS UP CONFERENCE APPS DIS claims it set new audio standards for teleconferencing when it introduced its DC 6990P touchscreen conferencing microphone unit. The company claims that when powered by the built-in, cutting-edge digital amplifier, the sound quality from the unit’s loudspeaker comprehensively raised the game for conference mics. DIS claims to have gone to even greater lengths to enhance the sound quality of lapel mics with the

46 SAS MARCH 2009

development of the new GM 652x series of gooseneck microphones, which are designed to operate in conjunction with the DC 6990P conferencing unit. DIS claims the mics boast unprecedented immunity from radio frequency interference from mobile telephones, PDAs and other wireless devices operated within a conference room thanks to the unique DIS RF Shield. The modern design of the microphone capsule ensures that a camera’s focus is

on the speaker and not the microphone, making it ideal for video applications, claims DIS. The new GM 652x

plugged directly into a portable or flush-mounted conference unit with an XLR-type connector. The GM 6523 is 40cm in length and the GM 6524 is 50cm in length. WWW.DIS-DK.COM

Gooseneck Microphone Series is ideal for conference centres, boardrooms, courtrooms, houses of worship, and other installed applications. It can be

NEW PRODUCTS PR LIGHTING XLED MAKES WAVES PR Lighting’s new XLED 590 luminaires each contain a head laden with 90 highpower, five-watt red, green and blue LEDs. The luminaire employs Osram Diamond Dragon LEDs, which offer up to 250 lumens of brightness and an average lamp life of around 100,000 hours. Variety is key with the XLED 590. The range is available in 10 fixed colour presets and 22, 10 and 35 degree beam angles. Four presets are also available for fixed colour temperatures. The luminaire can also be remotely managed via a DMX 512 five-pin interface. It is constructed from composite plastic and

CROWN AUDIO aluminium and tips the scales at 11kg. The XLED’s design also allows for reasonable head movement with 540degree pan and 270-degree tilt capabilities. And in case of emergency, the XLED 590 also contains an automatic shutdown function to avoid overheating. WWW.PRLIGHTING.COM

AMPLIFIERS GO I-TECH Crown Audio has introduced its new I-Tech HD Series touring amplifiers. At its core, I-Tech HD features a new user-inspired DSP engine, codeveloped with BSS, as well as Linear Phase FIR filters. The I-Tech HD series includes Crown’s Class-I amplifier technology, new software that makes I-Tech HD robust and easy to configure, a choice of input options including CobraNet and Crown’s new LevelMax limiter capabilities. Crown’s LevelMax limiter technology links the previously independent Peak, Thermal and RMS limiters, enabling more effective, protection of connected speakers while advancing system performance. LevelMax limiter actions are better informed guaranteeing

minimal sonic degradation, claims Crown. Developed in conjunction with sister company BSS, the next-generation OmniDriveHD DSP Engine which lies at the heart of I-Tech HD is based on architecture specifically designed for fast and efficient audio processing to provide a new platform for signal processing. The new FIREWALL FIR filter technology offers improved mid-range clarity and dramatically improved off-axis response. The OmniDrive HD is designed to reduce latency, safeguard sonic integrity and promote system reliability, claims Crown. WWW.CROWNAUDIO.COM

LAB.GRUPPEN COMPACTED POWER Lab.gruppen’s FP+ Series amplifiers have been designed specifically for pro audio production companies. No other amplifiers can match the FP+ Series’ reputation for delivering superior sound quality, enduring severe stress, and packing more power into downsized equipment racks, claims Lab.gruppen. The FP+ Series offers more options for fitting this performance into future touring inventories. There are seven different

48 SAS MARCH 2009

models, with power output from 2000 to 7000 watts per channel, including two fourchannel versions.

Lab.gruppen claims that regardless of the size of installation or the genre of music being performed, frontof-house arrays and monitor wedges will realise their full performance potential when powered by FP+ Series amplifiers. The seven FP+ Series

amplifiers share common family traits with each leveraging the same core technologies, which include patented Class TD output stage topology, R.SMPS regulated switch-mode power supplies, and proprietary copper-finned Intercooler heat dissipation systems. All seven FP+ series amplifiers offer real-time monitoring and control via the NomadLink network, with network modules included as standard equipment. WWW.LABGRUPPEN.COM

Visit us at Stand ZA-21, Zabeel Hall 3 - 5 March 2009

Datavideo EMEA Office - Datavideo Technologies Europe BV Floridadreef 106, 3565 AM Utrecht - The Netherlands Telephone: +31 30 261 9656 -

Datavideo EMEA Office - Datavideo Technologies Europe BV Floridadreef 106, 3565 AM Utrecht - The Netherlands Telephone: +31 30 261 9656 -

P.O. Box 93, Dubai, U.A.E Tel: +971 4 2821337, Fax: +971 4 2822617 E-mail:, Web site:


Conference Headliners This month’s top industry events in the spotlight. CABSAT 2009 3 – 5 March Dubai, UAE CABSAT is the Middle East’s leading annual convention for the satellite broadcast and digital content production industries. It showcases the latest products and services from the industry’s biggest players. Log on to for daily news updates and analysis live from the show.

CHINA INTERNATIONAL PRO SOUND & LIGHT EXPO 5 – 7 March Guangzhou, China The Guangzhou International Pro Sound and Light Expo is one of Asia’s leading annual trade events. The exhibition component attracts key players and manufacturers from the professional lighting, AV and audio equipment and technology sectors.

SOUND 09 5 – 8 March Istanbul, Turkey The annual, four-day trade event is expected to attract more than 30,000 visitors from across Europe and Asia. It will showcase the latest pro audio, lighting and visual effects technologies designed to aid live events production.

PROLIGHT + SOUND 1 – 4 April Frankfurt, Germany Recognised as the world’s largets annual pro audio and lighting technology trade event, Prolight + Sound will showcase the next-generation technologies set to be released to market in 2009.

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Projecta’s built-in electrical screens for ceilings combine stylish design with ease of installation Projecta is an international trendsetting developer and manufacturer of professional projection screens with unrivalled expertise in the field of screen fabrics. In more than 50 years, Projecta has grown to become a worldwide operating company with its headquarters in Weert, the Netherlands. The company's success is due in part to its close relationships with dealers, distributors and end users which allows the company to effectively respond to the changing needs of the various markets. Projecta is ISO 9001:2000 certified and is an active member of one of the largest trade associations in the world: CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association). Projecta introduces the Integrator Electrol and the Descender (RF) Electrol electrical projection screens, new options which complete the range of built-in projection solutions. The two new screens resemble the Advantage Deluxe Electrol in that they are invisible when not in use and therefore integrate perfectly into a presentation room. When it comes to installation, the installer can rely upon a high level of ease. Users are assured of an option which allows for the effortless integration of projection screen operation into an AV room control system.

In addition to outstanding image reproduction quality, these three screens make inconspicuous installation in ceilings possible, meaning that every presentation room retains its own unique appearance. The screens also include high-quality options for system integration. The Integrator Electrol is particularly well equipped for this purpose, offering an IR module with potential-free contacts. The Easy Service system for the three types of screen ensures that both the motor and screen fabric remain accessible after installation. Ease of installation When it comes to mounting the projection screens, Projecta has once again done its homework on the role of the screen installer. For all three screens, the Advantage Deluxe Electrol, the Integrator Electrol and the Descender (RF) Electrol, the system has been well thought-out: the casing is installed first, followed by the metal roller with the screen fabric. This ensures that no damage can occur to the projection screen fabric while the case is being installed. A unique option for these two projection screens is that the visible components are available in any colour. This guarantees the best possible integration of the screens into any interior.

Additional features • Robust aluminium (Advantage Deluxe Electrol) or steel (Integrator Electrol / Descender Electrol) case with white powder coating • Available with a selection of high-quality screen fabrics, including the unique Matte White M. The structure of this particular projection screen fabric ensures that it can only be rolled up in one direction, guaranteeing that the surface is very flat when hanging. • Black border increases the perceived clarity of the projected image. • Operation of the projection screen can be integrated into the AV room control system • Custom-made to size option for screen (Integrator Electrol / Descender Electrol)

Exhibitor at Palme 2008

Interested in being a Projecta distributor? Contact us at


PROLYTE PRODUCTS GROUP - T +31 594 85 15 15 - E -

54 SAS MARCH 2009

Photo: Studio Berar, Serbia

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FALCON - Range ®

The line of high-quality automated lights designed for entertainment- and architectural lighting





We would be happy to make you an individual sale, leasing or rental offer tailored to your needs. Distributed by

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BACK STAGE writers with fellow ‘Bang!’ Brian May pictured

Moore and Lintott.

Career-ing off the beaten track Not all bands can sustain Rolling Stonesesque longevity and for many ex-rockers, career options can sometimes be limited. The range of careers that retired bassists and worn-out prog-rock drummers can end up in is astounding. One recently reformed band that sums this up perfectly is Blur. Damon Albarn went on to create animated group Gorillaz, and less famously adapted a Chinese folk story into a modern day Mandarin language, live theatre/

cinematic/circus/opera, as you do, called Monkey: Journey to the West. Meanwhile, drummer Dave Rowntree joined the UK Labour Party and although he missed out on a seat at the UK council elections last year, he will be the Party’s candidate for the Cities of London and Westminster constituency in the next general election. Guitarist Graham Coxon has been doing the rounds as a solo artist adding credibility to a number of projects without enjoying too much unwanted success. Meanwhile, lanky bassist Alex James moved to the Oxfordshire countryside where he makes a cracking cheese. Australian environment minister Peter Garrett recently hit the headlines after reforming uber-’80s act Midnight Oil to raise money for the Victorian Bushfire Relief fund. S&S is not sure if donations are being made to encourage or discourage this. While cheese and politics have emerged as new pursuits for the Blur boys, some have preferred to revisit old habits. Queen’s Brian May co-wrote a book about the Big Bang in 2006. The following year he proved that he always had his head in the clouds when he finally handed in his Astronomy PhD thesis (titled A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud), 36 years after abandoning it to join the group.


“We’re going to bring Willie all over the world because of the happiness he brings to all our kababayans [fellow Filipinos].” Raffy Lopez, chief operating officer of Philippines-based TV network ABS-CBN Global reveals his plans to unleash Filipino entertainer Willie Revillame in Italy, Florida and Las Vegas following a 20,000 sell-out gig in Dubai.

“I haven’t seen my birth certificate in years.” Iggy Pop explains why he chose Swiftcover insurance in a recent ad. The campaign has caused controversy as, in reality, the company refuses to insure those working in entertainment.

“I didn’t even know I was up for a Grammy! I opened the newspaper on Monday and saw that I had won, and thought, ‘Well, that’s great!’” Bruce Springsteen plays it cool, or dumb, after his Girls in Their Summer Clothes from last year’s Magic LP, took the Best Rock Song award at the Grammys.

UPCOMING EVENTS Desert Rock March 6, Dubai Festival City Andrea Bocelli March 27, Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi Coldplay March 28, Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi 56 SAS MARCH 2009

The Boss’ temporary lap se proves a winning form ula.

DIFC 3rd Annual Celebration by HQ Creative

Sound  Lighting  Video  Conferencing  Staging  Rigging  Special Effects

For almost 30 years our name has stood for professional event technology. With our highly specialised technicians and well qualified engineers we are able to offer our customers the whole spectrum of technical services, including competent advice and planning in the run-up to a production, the rental of

Neumann & Müller Event Technology UAE   Office 304  Liberty Building  PO Box 76828  Al Garhoud  Phone: +9 71 4 2 83 00 62

equipment and the complete implementation of events. Though founded in Germany N&M has been operating in Dubai since 2005 and has the necessary local knowledge to realise high-quality events and creative productions successfully.

Sound & Stage Middle East  

Sound & Stage Middle East - March 2009 Issue - ITP Business Publishing